Do statins cause erectile dysfunction?


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition marked by the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. The risk increases with age, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Certain conditions, such as depression and low testosterone, are possible causes of erectile dysfunction. It has even been debated that statins, a popular type of cholesterol medication, can sometimes be at fault.


Statins are among the most common cholesterol medications. Block the production of cholesterol by the liver. This helps reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as "bad" cholesterol. However, statins do not remove the plaque that is already in your arteries or reduce the blockages that already exist.

These medications are sold under the following brand names:

  • Altoprev

  • Crestor

  • Lipitor

  • Livalo

  • Pravachol

  • Zocor

Common side effects include headaches, muscle aches, memory loss and nausea. Rarely, statins can cause liver damage and high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Mayo Clinic does not mention ED as a common side effect of statins, but that does not necessarily mean it can not happen.

Possiblelinks to ED

While erectile dysfunction is not a widely reported side effect of statins, researchers have explored the possibility.

A 2014 study found that statins can actually lower testosterone levels. Testosterone is the main male sex hormone and is necessary to achieve an erection.

The same study also pointed to the possibility that statins may aggravate existing ED. However, a 2017 review found that statins did not increase the risk of sexual dysfunction in men, although the researchers agreed that more study is needed.

Why can not statins be the cause?

While researchers have investigated the possibility that statins are a cause of erectile dysfunction, other tests have suggested otherwise. The same 2014 study found that over time, erectile dysfunction actually improved among men who took statins for high cholesterol.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic states that clogged arteries can cause erectile dysfunction. If your doctor prescribes statins to treat high cholesterol, the medication may not cause problems. In contrast, clogged arteries may be the cause.

Blocked blood vessels (atherosclerosis) can also lead to erectile dysfunction. It can be a sign of future heart problems. In fact, a 2011 report found that ED is sometimes a warning sign that a person could have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.

The bottom line

To date, there is more evidence that statins actually help ED rather than hamper erections. Until there is concrete evidence that statins are really a cause of erectile dysfunction, it is unlikely that doctors will stop prescribing these important cholesterol medications. Erectile dysfunction in itself can be an indicator of an underlying health problem, so it is important to consult your doctor if you have this condition.

Also, it's never a good idea to stop taking your medication. If you are concerned that your statin is causing ED, check with your doctor first. Statins may or may not be the problem, so it's important to rule out other factors instead of stopping medications that can save lives.

Healthy habits, along with prescription medications, can be very helpful. Ironically, many of the lifestyle recommendations for erectile dysfunction and high cholesterol are the same. These include:

  • Eat a diet low in saturated and trans fat.

  • doing daily exercise

  • choose lean meats

  • give up smoking



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